Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Coming Consensus on Afghanistan

The President is finally getting bipartisanship, not on health care, but against a war that has morphed into Iraq II as George Will, no bleeding heart liberal, now says it's "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan."

With calls for more troops and casualties rising, American abhorrence of an endless bloody occupation is coalescing into a demand for rethinking exactly what we are doing in that part of the world, why and for how long.

Even advocates for staying like Andrew Cordesman concede that "any form of even limited victory will take years of further effort" while insisting that the new military-diplomatic team is "our last hope of victory.

"Yet they can win only if they are allowed to manage both the civil and military sides of the conflict without constant micromanagement from Washington or traveling envoys. They must be given both the time to act and the resources and authority they feel they need."

We have heard this song before, thousands of American lives and billions of dollars ago, in Iraq, where bloody factionalism is still alive and well to keep us bogged down for years to come.

If Barack Obama is to avoid becoming another LBJ, it's time for a hard-headed reassessment of the risks and rewards of sending more troops to die in a country that has just shown it can't have an honest popular election and can't keep enough of a lid on corruption to enlist its own people against Taliban jihadists.

Instead of hiding behind Gen. Petraeus as George W. Bush did over Iraq, President Obama will have to engage Gen. McChrystal's view that the war in Afghanistan is "serious" but "winnable" and demand a clear answer to the question of "Win what?"

No one denies that the US has to combat terrorist threats in the Middle East but, eight years after 9/11, there has to be a better way than sending our young people to die there needlessly.

1 comment:

Holte Ender said...

The rhetoric from the Generals doesn't sound encouraging, another Bush/Cheney mess for Obama to deal with. The American public haven't been shocked by the casualty rate, yet. Until they do, the Generals get to play war games.